InTrans / Sep 16, 2022

PEM technology displayed during FHWA visit to InTrans

Peter Taylor discusses the VKelly test.

On September 9, the Mobile Concrete Technology Center (MCTC) held an open house at the Institute for Transportation (InTrans). The MCTC, operated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), demonstrated tests and technology related to the work of the National Concrete Pavement Technology Center (CP Tech Center) on performance-engineered mixtures (PEM). The PEM project (TPF-5(368)) evaluates what makes concrete able to survive the environment and therefore require less maintenance and replacement.


Leif Wathne performs a resistivity test.

Tests that evaluated workability, permeability, and resistance to cold weather were displayed outside the trailer. Workability tests included the VKelly test and the Box test, both of which measure the effects of vibration on a mixture.

Also shown were the super air meter (SAM), resistivity, and Phoenix tests, which respectively focus on the distribution of air, the movement of moisture, and the ratio of water to cement in mixtures.


Jagan Gudimettla gives a tour of the lab.

Other technologies shown during the open house included tools to nondestructively determine pavement thickness and to measure the position of dowel bars. For some of the nondestructive tests, attendees had the opportunity to use the equipment themselves after the demonstrations. They could also tour inside the trailer to view and learn about additional, smaller-scale laboratory tests.

The open house, which drew about 50 attendees, additionally featured presentations by FHWA and InTrans staff, including MCTC Senior Product Engineer Jim Grove, MCTC Project Manager Jagan Gudimettla, and CP Tech Center Director Peter Taylor. The event was co-sponsored by the Iowa Concrete Paving Association, FHWA, and the CP Tech Center.


Attendees listen to a presentation about the MCTC.

Iowa is familiar territory for the MCTC, as there have been at least 26 MCTC projects in the state since 2010, including open houses, workshops, and lectures.

The CP Tech Center is continuing its work on PEM with a new pooled fund that focuses on what happens to mixtures after they leave the plant. This next iteration of the project also emphasizes the sustainability benefits of longer-lasting concrete pavements.